Written by Matt Wixon
Countdown to state: Matt Wixon's memorable UIL boys hoops title games
This week our high school sports columnist Matt Wixon is gearing up for the UIL state basketball tournament by running through his top five boys title games of recent years.
Some of these ballgames were near instant classics as soon as the final buzzer sounded. What do you think of his picks? Tell us on our facebook page.
More picks to come in the hours leading to the tournament opener at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
Duncanville vs. Kingwood, 2007
The 2006-07 Duncanville boys basketball team was one of the most dominant ever. The Panthers finished 39-0 after beating Humble Kingwood, 60-46, in the 5A title game.
Duncanville's most dominant element was its suffocating defense. Duncanville held Kingwood to two points in the third quarter and cruised to the championship. The Panthers finished No. 1 in HoopsUSA.com's national rankings.
Duncanville didn't win a playoff game by fewer than 12 points. It hit six of 14 3-pointers in the first half against Kingwood, and by midway through the fourth quarter, the Duncanville fans were starting their chant of "Beep, beep, beep … you better go start the bus." The celebration had begun.
Kevin Butler was named the state tournament game MVP after a 12-point, six-rebound, three-steal performance off the bench.
DeSoto vs. Cedar Hill, 2009
DeSoto, a perennial basketball power, is back in the state tournament. But even if the Eagles win another state title this weekend, it will be difficult to top 2009. (Well, maybe if DeSoto beats Allen in the championship, because Allen beat DeSoto in the state football semifinals the last two years.)
Why was 2009 extra special?
Because DeSoto beat its neighbor, Cedar Hill, in the championship game. Yes, in the huge state of Texas, the teams playing for the championship were from six miles apart. DeSoto won, 59-47, in the biggest "Battle of Belt Line" basketball clash ever.
Championship game MVP Dominique Bennett scored 21 points for DeSoto.
Plano vs. Kingwood, 2006
The year before Humble Kingwood met an undefeated Duncanville team in the championship, and lost, it played a team that wasn’t as loaded with talent — and lost.
But Plano was still talented, and in the playoffs it got on a roll, thanks in large part to point guard John Roberson.
In the championship game, Plano rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter against the defending champion. Roberson, who had transferred to Plano from a school in Florida, and Kingwood point guard Nic Wise hit big shot after big shot. Roberson hit six of 12 3-pointers, finished with 24 points and was named MVP. Wise, who scored 32 points, launched a 3-pointer just before the buzzer that rolled around the rim before lipping out.
“This team has the most heart of any I’ve ever played on,” Roberson, who later played at Texas Tech, said after the game. “We just held them and held them, missed some free throws, and held them some more.”
Plano became the first boys basketball team from Collin County to win a UIL state title. Allen will try to match the feat this weekend.
Kimball vs. San Antonio Jay, 2002
The Kimball boys basketball team is headed back to the state tournament for the fourth straight year, and with a win Thursday, it can be in the championship game for the fourth straight time. The Knights won 4A titles in 2011 and 2012 and were the runner-up last year.
It’s been a memorable run.
But when talking about memorable state tournament games involving Kimball, you’ve got to start with the 2002 5A final. The Kimball players involved with the game probably don’t want to hear that. But it was an amazing, and for Kimball, excruciating, finish.
Kimball led San Antonio Jay, 53-51, with 5.9 seconds left. But after Kimball missed the front end of a one-and-one, Jay’s Chris Ross got the rebound and launched a double-clutch 50-foot shot at the buzzer.
In most cases, such a desperation shot wouldn’t come close to the rim. But as cliche’ as the whole “team of destiny” thing is, consider this:
Ross hadn’t made a basket in the game before he launched the shot. And it came on his 17th birthday. Pretty crazy.
The shot gave Jay a 54-53 victory and set off a wild celebration. Kimball players fell to the floor in disbelief and disappointment.
“I just can’t explain the feeling,” Ross said after the game. “It’s a dream come
true. I can tell you it’s a lucky shot. It felt like everything was
going in slow motion.”